I'm going to differ somewhat in the statement on beauty because I think we Christians have a deeper understanding. He's right about the basics, but lacks the metaphysical understanding which tells us why beauty is so absolutely subversive:

Beauty is the irruption of God's presence through the veil of immanence, a brief glimpse of what G.M. Hopkins called the artist's signature in the haeccitas of the object of perception. Beauty is the evidence of God's claim to ownership and creation over all things in existence. It's the proof that Man can obfuscate and cloak Being, can mar it with sin, can lie with fancy philosophic conceptions, but he can never fully efface the Maker's Mark.

And the notion that beauty is in the eye of the beholder is a misunderstanding. It doesn't mean subjectivism or perspectivism. Beauty appears to Man in the same way that God makes his presence known - in the transcendent vision that sees beyond the mere superficiality of the immanent. The poet, the prophet, the (true) philosopher, and the aesthete are reaching toward the same thing - a glimpse of the living presence of the Lord God. Plato describes beauty in the Symposium as an erotic drive to possess and be possessed by the sublime, and just like ordinary love it is intensely personal.

People turning to beauty is always a turn away from the immanent, from the superficial, and from the immediate. That is dangerous to the modern regime, because it bypasses all their control mechanisms, all their disciplines, and devalues all their temptations. It reveals the ugliness of modernity, of consumerism, of cosmopolitanism, of the whole End of History vision of the globalist liberal order. Beauty turns our eyes away from the unworthy, just as the eyes of the lover turn away from all but the beloved. There's a very good chapter in Bess' book, Till We Have Built Jerusalem, that absolutely condemns the modern church for its architectural embrace of ugliness, in the Big Box Mega-auditorium, the parking-lot pave-it-all approach to church grounds, and so forth. The Church abandoned beauty, and it wonders why it can't feel the presence of God.

There are certainly dangerous and disordered approaches to beauty, which can draw us off the path. Without the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we are certainly subject to them. We should be aware of this, and rather than devaluing beauty as such we must acknowledge it for the sacred value that it is. God looked on the world he created and saw that it was Good. And the Beautiful is the Good. Moreover, the Socratic truth is valid for us Christians, that Love is the magnetic force drawing us toward the Beautiful and the Good, and that these are signature weapons that the Lord places in our hands for our battle against the antichrists of This World.

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I'm an older millennial and many of my peers continue to leave churches into their early 40s for many different reasons but to me they boil down to this: even if you're married, or grew up in a stable, two parent home, there is just very little keeping you in a church. If it's not central to your social life or worldview then it's just a burden, few people have a community which makes the faith real and impactful daily.

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Younger millennial here: I've seen a number of young people heavily involved in college ministry drift away gradually after finding it difficult to adapt to church for actual adults. Not to mention this usually follows relocating from where they went to college. For those already out of college, one of the biggest issues to retaining church members is the high frequency with which young people move. Unlike the past, our generation is ultimately much less rooted in their local community at all. They are unlikely to stay at the same job for long or own a home, and wait longer to get married or have children after marriage. And I've even seen some couples move away recently after having children to be closer to the grandparents.

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For what it's worth, I'm also an older Millennial and this is very different from my experience. I wonder what's so different about our peer groups.

I suppose I'm aware of zero peers or old friends who are marginally attached to church. All of the lukewarm cohort drifted away a long, long time ago, leaving behind only those who are highly committed and actively discipling their children.

Lyman Stone's recent observation rings true to me, that apostasy generally happens BEFORE college. Along with the vast majority of my peers, I was among this group (though truth be told, I never really heard the Gospel growing up in a Mainline home), but like some of the others, I then found Christ in college.

I can think of one guy who yo-yo'd -- atheist in high school, had a religious awakening around sophomore year of college, but had abandoned it again by the time he graduated. But nothing like that happening by mid-20s or later.

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I should rephrase what I originally said to "some of my peers". Yes, it was my experience too that the majority of apostasy happens before college, maybe during.

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